Burren Backstep from Niall Toner

Niall TonerIrish grasser Niall Toner has released a music video for his mandolin instrumental, Burren Backstep, included on his current Pinecastle project, Onward & Upwards.

It’s a performance video of this simple but haunting tune, which Niall says came to him while relaxing in the Irish countryside.

“The word ‘burren’ in Gaelic/Irish/Scot’s, means small river. The stream [creek] that rises in the Blackstairs Mountains in County Wexford, and flows into the Barrow in Carlow Town, runs close to my house in the foothills. I got the inspiration for the tune while sitting by the riverside, pondering on how the great Ralph Stanley might have come up with the melodic idea for his iconic Clinch Mountain Backstep. It’s my attempt at combining a melodic Irish-style tune with a bluegrass rhythm.”


Niall will be heading back to the US in the Spring of 2014 to perform with his band at MerleFest. He also mentioned that Burren Backstep is slated to serve as the theme for a new film in Ireland next year called Keep It Country, which will be directed by Ciaran O’Connor, who also shot this video.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.